Here are some photos and video about our trip to Alaska. We cruised the first section of our trip
from Vancouver to Seward with my mom and sister and the second section we traveled independently
up to Denali National Park.

Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska


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One of the best finds that we had while traveling in the Denali area is the 49th State Brewery. This
new brewery makes a terrific assortment of beers (they even make a double IPA and a raspberry beer that
Natalia loved) as well as a lot of great food. I started with garlic fries and Natalia started with
coconut shrimp.


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Look at the happiness involved in Natalia eating ribs. These ribs were AMAZING!


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Part of the reason Natalia enjoyed the brewery as much as she did was the fireplace that we sat basically
right on top of.


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Here's a view of their beer list on tap. I always love it when a brew pub says, "My beer is not the only beer
out there and I've found a few that I really like. Here they are." The Lagunitas Lucky 13 is EXCELLENT!


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A number of people bike the 90 mile Denali Park Road. Here is the elevation profile. It's not so bad until
you realize that it's at 64 degrees north latitude and so the weather can be a little suspect. On the upside
you have almost 24 hours of sunlight.


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Here is one of my new favourite flowers - monkshood.


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This gives a reasonable view of two different biological zones - the tundra and the taiga. I just love the
rock colour.


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We had a visit from a small red fox.


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In order to see much of Denali National Park, you have to get used to their shuttle systems. The first 15 miles
of the road is open to traffic but the next 75 miles is not. So, we took the Wonder Lake shuttle for the day,
which resulted in an 11 hour day of touring. Here is Natalia checking out the view to the south from the Polychrome
overlook.

A view from Polychrome Overlook



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A few Dall sheep who were checking us out from the hillside.


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Natalia at Polychrome (many colours) overlook.


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I thought the colours of greenery, the silty grey, and the sky made this a nice photo.


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This is taken at Toklat River.


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A pretty serious ram's horns from a Dall sheep.


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At the Toklat River gift shop, they keep a tally of the number of climbers, successes, and how many
people are still on the mountain. At a ~40% success rate, that seems pretty doable. However, -65 deg C
and winds up to 150 mph doesn't get me excited.


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Here is Natalia with a set of caribou horns.


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I can't believe that moose wear these all day! I found just one of them exhausting to hold.


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A grizzly bear hanging out in the park. We wound up seeing many grizzlies, caribou, Dall sheep, 1 moose,
a coyote, golden eagles, and a fox. Not bad for a day of touring from a bus!


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Here I am at Eielson Vistor Centre, named after a great bush pilot. I'm pointing to where Mt McKinley
would be if we could see it.


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Here's a better view of what the mountain would look like without the clouds.


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A pretty photo of Natalia at Wonder Lake. You could ask, "Paul, how does it take 5 and a half hours
to drive 75 miles?" Well, that's quite a wonder indeed... Actually, the road passes 4 major mountain passes
and there were times when Natalia actually had to have her eyes closed in the bus.


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The mosquitoes at Wonder Lake were MASSIVE!


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Natalia and I at Wonder Lake. I'm getting pretty good at centring these shots.


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The Wonder Lake campground at mile 85 on the Denali Park road.


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For a brief 2 minutes, we even got to see Mt McKinley - the highest mountain in North America at 20,320 feet.
What makes McKinley unique is that there are '>100 mountains taller than it in the world, but all of them are
near the equator. McKinley is at 64 deg North latitude so it's not a question of technical challenge. It's
a question of the weather.


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Natalia and Mt McKinley.


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Natalia and the Eielson Visitor Centre - which received the prestigious LEED platinum award and was the first
National Park Service building to achieve this.


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The view from Eielson looking to the south is quite dramatic even without the Alaska Range behind it.


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A few caribou grazing.


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The same caribou slightly different shot.


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A close-up of the big caribou. Check out that shovel! I think it's amazing that the caribou (and most
ungulates) spend this much energy growing antlers EVERY YEAR! Unreal use of scarce resources. It's
also cool that they've developed eye protectors in these antlers.

Video of this caribou



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A decent close-up of some Dall sheep.


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We had the pleasure of getting really close to these Dall sheep. They seem almost as relaxed around vehicles
as the Rocky Mountain Bighorns do in Banff.


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Some decent-sized horns.


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Yup, we were pretty close. Did I mention I don't have a telephoto lens?

Video of Dall sheep grazing



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Of course, after the amazing ribs, we decided to go back for another round at the 49th State Brewery.
Here is Natalia along with a burger that's bigger than my head!


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If you're familiar with 'Into the Wild', this is the bus that the main character tried to live in.
That is, until the bears got him.


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A few more caribou grazing as we enter the park for our Discovery hike.


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I really find these animals quite majestic.


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A few more with big helmets.


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This is the classic shot of the Park shuttle bus rounding a corner near Polychrome overlook. I can't
imagine what it must have been like making this road. They don't plow it in winter and instead use
dogsleds to get around the park.

Our Discovery Hike


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Here is Paul - our guide for a discovery hike in the Polychrome Glacier area. It turns out that contrary
to everything I've ever learned about hiking, in Denali they don't want you to use trails. They instead
limit the access and encourage people to take a different trail than their neighbour.


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More of the Nootka lupins.


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Natalia and our guide walking around the creek bed. The Polychrome Glaciers are in the distance.


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One of my new favourite flowers is the alpine poppy. These things are super rugged and were growing in
areas that did not appear to have much soil if any.


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I'm not sure which flower this one is but it's pretty.


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The elegant Alaskan paintbrush. Very different shade to what we get in Canada.


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Natalia and a beautiful big sky with colourful mountains around.


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We mostly walked on the creek bed since it was so much faster than traveling through the stunted willows,
the bogs, or the larger trees.


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I also enjoyed checking out mushrooms along with flowers on this hike. I think this might be the
sickener mushroom.


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Natalia wanted to bring this rock home for my mom for her garden.


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More interesting mushrooms.


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The Alaska state flower is the 'Forget-Me-Not' and I tried hard not to forget it.


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Natalia and a whole meadow of lupins.


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This is the farthest point we traveled. I have it estimated at 4.5km from the road via the creek bed we
took (using Google Earth) so a total day of ~10 km isn't too far off.


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Natalia and I in the Polychrome area of Denali National Park.


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Natalia in the foreground looking back at the mountains above Polychrome overlook to the north.

A video of the area



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I really enjoyed the colours of the mountains in this area. Check out the oranges and yellows along with the
brown and beige. Pretty fun.


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A really interesting mushroom. I think this could be part of the morel family.

A walk through spongy dry tundra


Natalia walking on tundra



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These two flowers are pretty rare I guess. The pink one might be a plume and the whitish pink one is a
arctic spring beauty.


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A better look at the spring beauty.


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I thought this one was pretty neat. I think it might be King's crown. I thought it looked like the
hen and chicks that my mom grows in her garden.


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This is a shooting star.


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If you look closely, you can see the ptarmigan that was squawking at us.


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Natalia walking through the low willows.


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This was quite a bronze-coloured mushroom.


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This is actually a mushroom as well. Really!


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The last animal we saw on our tour of Denali was a coyote. Check this guy out just strutting his stuff.
I couldn't help myself from singing the theme song to the Littlest Hobo.

Theme song to Littlest Hobo


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